He was late that night. She stayed up waiting for him, wondering what could have held him up. For a moment she entertained the thought that since he knew she was waiting for him, and she knew for a fact that he was aware of that, he decided to tease her by being a little bit late. But it was 11:47, and he would usually be home by 11:20. Yesterday he came home 4 minutes late at 11:24, but that was because he stopped by the nearby mini market to buy a prepaid card to recharge his balance, which made sense because the last time there was a used prepaid refill card in the trash was 9 days ago. But now she he was 27 minutes late and she was getting more worried by the minute for she could only imagine the worse. Her nerves were just about to let loose when she saw the bright head-lights of his Honda shining from the distance. She let a sigh of relief, watched him leave his car and close the door ever so gently, wrapping his face with his black scarf to shield his mouth and nose from the freezing air. Her eyes followed him as he ascended the 8 doorsteps to his front door, chuckled under her breath when he dropped his keys and arched down to fetch them. Then, as he closed his door, she wished him a good night and went to bed with a smile on her face, and all the love in the world that a woman can hold for a man in her heart.
For the inept eye, it might’ve seemed like he barely knew she existed, but she knew better than that. There was no doubt in her mind as to how he felt about her, and she was fully aware of his ways; because she knew him very well, perhaps even better than he knew himself. He was too proud to let her catch a glimpse of interest from him, but she didn’t mind it; in fact she admired him for that. Actually, there were very few things she didn’t admire about him. Had she been a poet, she would probably have written an ode to every single detail. From his thick, brown tufts of hair to his elegant, stylish shoes. Truth be told, she could tell you every piece of clothing he has in his wardrobe, where it was bought from and for how much. She could show you pictures of his different hair styles and how he looks unshaved.
For 3 years he had been her main project, as if all the passion of her life has materialized into one being, and she knew it from the moment she set eyes on him the day he moved in. She asked around until she got hold of his full name, and that was pretty much all she needed. She embarked on a personal quest, found out where he worked, where his family lived, how many brothers and sisters he had as well as their names and occupations, what college he went to, what his major was, she even tried to figure out the six degrees of separation between him and herself, and since they had no mutual friends, she had to dig deeper to find if she shared any friends with any of his friends. She signed up to every online social network, searching for names and jumping from one profile to another, riveting in every mediocre discovery she made. She waited a couple of months, and after a couple of encounters, premeditated on her part and incidental on his, she felt it was legally appropriate to send him a friend request on whatever online portal he was using. Now she could have a peek, or a little bit more than that, at how he thinks and what he feels. And for that matter, she could analyze it and come up with jaw-dropping conclusions, the mightiest of which was when she discovered after reading a Facebook status message that he was, completely, utterly, head-over-heels in love… with her.
The next morning after the scare, she woke up with the same smile she sported the night before, and it was for one simple recurring reason: she had a dream about him. She was walking into the house and he was standing there, at first she couldn’t see his face as he was looking the other way, but as she approached him, he turned around and smiled at her. It felt so real that it took her a few moments after she woke up to realize it was only a dream, which wiped the smile off her face instantly.
Right after she got up from bed, she switched on her computer to attend to her daily routine. She opened a browser window, then another 2 tabs in it. She signed on to Facebook, Twiiter and Linkdin, for those were the websites he was active on. He had posted 3 new tweets on Twitter, nothing new on Linkedin, but something new on facebook was promising to make her blood boil. It was a wall-to-wall conversation between him and a girl who had a kitten as a profile picture. She hated people with profile pictures that didn’t reveal their identitie, and hated them even more for not posting any public information about themselves. She was so infuriated by the overly friendly discussion between the two that she wanted to know who that kitten was more than she wanted her next breath. She opened her friend list and tried to work out the connection. She started counting their mutual friends, since she memorized his friend list by heart, then she checked every photo album and every profile she could access, looking for clues. Finally and after quite a long period of time had passed, her fears were put to rest as she learned that girl was his married expatriate cousin.
She laughed at herself for she felt pretty ridiculous, but then she felt guilty for doubting him. What was she thinking? She knew he swore his heart to her, and she knew he had always been faithful, for a perfect guy like him can’t possibly cheat on the girl he loved, especially that he knew that no girl on earth could love him as much as she did. But she was so ridden with guilt that she decided to call him and apologize in her own way. She dialed his number, which was the only dialed number on her phone, and after it rang 3 times, he answered. She felt a fresh breath of air washing by her when he heard his voice, and as all their phone calls went, she said nothing, she only listened to him, and after he would give up any hope of hearing her voice, for that brief moment, she would just listen to the rhythmic sound of his breathing. She always let him hang up before she did, so that she wouldn’t miss any moment she could spend with him.
But, as a matter of fact, there wasn’t a moment she didn’t spend with him. He was with her every minute of the day, occupying every thought she had. Everyone looked like him, everyone sounded like him. Every conversation she had was carefully planned to lead to him or to someone who had even the remotest connection to him. Everything she did was a part of a larger scheme that connected her to him, even when she bought a new pair of shoes she thought whether he would like them on her or not. She’d seen people acting this way on TV, but those were not in love, they were obsessed, and she pitied them.
Then there came the crash. It started when she noticed he was spending more time than usual away from home. He would be absent for hours on end and some nights he wouldn’t come home until after midnight. She tried to make sense of it, but no explanation she came up with seemed to satisfy her merciless curiosity. Little did she know this wouldn’t stay a mystery for long, and even less did she know that the sooner she learned the matter, the sooner she would wish she hadn’t. It was glaring at her, right there at the restaurant to where she followed him. She was pretending to read a book while sipping a cup of coffee that almost fell off her hand when she saw the gut-wrenching spectacle. And, if that wasn’t enough, the changed relationship status confirmed whatever suspicion she had.
She couldn’t believe he could do that to her. Engaged? What about his promises, his unspoken promises? Had the carpet in her room been able to speak, it probably would’ve screamed in agony under her feet, moving relentlessly between the window and the mirror. She would look out the window at his house with her eyes shooting fire sparks and a most dreary expression that promised destruction. She would then turn around to the mirror, hating herself for being so stupid to trust him so much, and to love him even more.
“He doesn’t deserve me”. That was her most recurring thought. She then started this scenario in her head, where she’d bury herself under the blanket and cry herself to death. Her family would make the morbid discovery in the morning: A young dead body with a note that says “I wish you had stabbed me to death”. The whole neighborhood would be in shock over the tragedy, including the person who was the reason behind it all. He would come crying at her dead feet, and he would sit by her grave for hours, every day, and his sorry excuse of a fiancé would see the truth and leave him to spend the rest of his miserable, pathetic life alone, drowned in a sea of remorse.
But as she pictured them together again, she felt a knot tightening in her stomach to think that they would continue to live their life normally together while she’s being eaten by worms under the ground.
That thought diverted her back to reality, and she was glad it did, because then it dawned on her. How couldn’t she have thought of that earlier? She knew he was mad about her, that was out of question. But that’s the point! He was afraid she might not be in love with him just as much, so he decided to do this whole act to make her feel jealous. Oh, how silly of her to have doubted him like that!
After that there was only waiting. She was sure he was going to break up with his fiancé and come crawling back to her, she just wasn’t sure when. She didn’t feel like he was taken from her, he was hers and hers only. She even felt bad for the other girl; for the poor thing had no idea how she was being used and that she was in for a trauma. She hoped the girl wouldn’t be crazy enough to do something stupid, for she knew a little too well what a woman with a broken-heart is capable of.
More waiting followed. Day and night she looked on from that window, anticipating his every move, monitoring his goings out and comings in, until one day she saw something unusual. It was a convertible car decorated with flowers and ribbons, ad she couldn’t find any other explanation. It was the day she never saw coming. Then there was people and music, and then after slightly over an hour of singing and rejoicing they were all gone.
She stayed up by the window, waiting and hoping that it’s all a sham, and that he could show up at her doorstep at any moment and asks for her forgiveness for tormenting her so. But this wasn’t going to happen, because an hour or so after midnight the same car came back, but this time there was a smaller crowd and the flowers were wilted. The singing started again along with the tears streaming down her face. She looked on, devastated, unable to think why he would do such a thing. Why would he go all the way and break her heart? As her mind seemed unable to offer any rational explanation, she rushed to a little drawer in her dressing table and pulled out something she’s been hiding away for a time like this, despite how little she expected it.
She pressed it to the side of her head, unable to control her tears, and before pulling the trigger, she thought these bullet didn’t belong to her, but rather to the one who made her reach this point of desperation. She reached out of the window, pointing at the bride, then the groom, then she thought again, she was the one who trusted him, maybe she should be the one to take the bullet, and as she pulled it inside, she closed her eyes and pointed the weapon again to the right side of her head, but before she could muster the kind of courage it takes to take one’s own life, her mother came in, gently took the blow-dryer out of her hand and put it away.
The poor girl didn’t seem to know where she was. Her mother took her by the hand and made her sit down on the bed. She wiped off her tears with her bare hand, and then looked at her with drooping eyes and a faint smile as she tried to find the least painful way to say what she had in mind.
“Maya, dear, I know what these occasions remind you of, and I know that you really loved Adam, and he loved you back, and I know that what happened to him was tragic and it broke your heart, but it’s been 4 years. I’m not saying you should forget him, I just want you to go on with your life.”
She gave her a hug and then went to fix her a glass of lemonade to cool her down. Maya looked at her mother sadly as she left the room. She had no idea who this Adam was, her mother seemed to be getting senile, she thought.
She walked again to the window and as she looked at the joyful crowd again, the truth hit her like a bolt from the blue. How couldn’t she have seen it before? It was right out there, staring her in the face. Now everything made sense and she knew why things took this weird turn. Now, as she looked at the blushing bride she realized how blind she was to the uncanny resemblance she bore to her. Of course! That’s it, he knew he couldn’t have her so he went to a woman who looked exactly like her so he can feel every day that he’s with her.
She felt her heart breaking again for that poor girl and how badly she was being used without even knowing it. Yet she couldn’t help the sneaking feeling of joy she felt as she thought of the day all this will come to the end and his little scheme will be revealed, and then everything will come apart. He will be broken and lonely, but against all odds, she hoped he knew it in his heart that when this day comes, she will be here, by this very window, waiting for him to come back.